Chris Morgan - a big man at St Davids RFC


‘Around the Touchline’ feature:


Chris MorganChris Morgan is very much a larger than life character involved in St Davids RFC as part of their coaching staff but in his playing days ‘Morgs’ not only battled hard in the Saints’ pack but also had spells in youth and senior rugby with Fishguard & Goodwick RFC.
He came back into action last season on the Saints’ coaching staff as the defence coach alongside Morgan Griffiths (head coach), Noel Lyons (forwards’ coach), Adam John (backs’ coach) and Jack Dudley (team manager).

Qualified as a coach but found it hard-going coaching unruly nippers!

“To be honest I had stopped my involvement after I had retired when I was 36 and other than a bit of junior coaching, once I had qualified under a top bloke in Kenny Davies but gave up after two years with the club’s under 7s or 8s which I can only describe as carnage.
“I also had a second bash alongside Lee Clarke as we coached the under 14s through to under 16s and in that group we had players of the calibre of Tom Clarke and Dylan Walsh, who have since done very well at Narberth.

Family matters . . .

“But then other more important family matters came to the fore a bit later, not least the fact that when our lovely daughter Tilly was diagnosed with leukemia when she was only three  it was a terrible time for Amy and I - but we were lucky to have the most amazing support from our family and the wider community, which included a St Davids versus Fishguard & Goodwick match which raised a considerable sum.
“Tilly is now 10, going on 20, and is really well - and we also have son Archie (7), who has just started out in football with the Bluebirds’ Academy at Haverfordwest County. I’ve had friends saying he must have Amy’s hand/eye co-ordination because when she was in school she played netball and hockey in school - and hockey at county level!”

Noel Lyons, Jack Dudley, Chris Morgan, Adam John

Invited back to coaching by ‘Big Jack’

“And so I just watched a bit of rugby around the county until I received a phone call out of the blue from Big Jack asking me if I would help out with the club’s new coaching set-up after a disappointing previous season - and my first thought was ‘Blimey’ and then ‘No chance!’
“But Jack can be very persuasive and after a chat with my wife Amy, who has always been super-supportive, I met up with the other would-be coaches and things didn’t work out badly because we had greater numbers in training and eight wins in our league season - a huge improvement!
“We have already started this campaign with some tough training sessions where the average attendance has been 24, and we recently got off to a flying start as we beat Bynea 24-10 at home, with Nathan Forster again leading by example as captain for the second season.
“We took on the Narberth Development Team in the KO Cup and actually led 8-7 at half time but eventually went down 24-13 – disappointing but at least it showed our squad what we can do if we stick together.

Other sports – and a late introduction to rugby

Outside of his rugby, Mogs enjoys playing darts and in his younger days played in goal for Solva at junior and youth level - and also dabbled with cricket at Llanrhian, where about three years ago he helped the second team win their section, readily admitting he is a bit of a slogger who can send the ball miles if he catches it right.
Back on the rugby front, Mogs was a relatively late starter when a well-known Saints’ character in Gerald Miles dragged him away from football and he played at No 8 for St Davids’ under 16s as I played alongside Richard ‘Tank’ James and Phil Lamb.

 Became a ‘Seagull’ and enjoyed it at The Moors

But in my final year in youth we didn’t have enough players so I joined Fishguard & Goodwick and came under the influence of another coaching character in Colwyn James, whose son Chris was in the team alongside Dorian Ladd, Huw Morris and Nathan John.
“They switched me from No 8 to second row and often tight-head prop and in one season our young team reached the county under 23 cup final, where we were gutted as we lost to Tenby United at Crymych.
“I also had a spell with a very good senior Seagulls’ team that included outstanding players like Romeo Colella, Huw Evans, my old pal Nathan Jenkins and the Davies boys, Evan and Graham, plus another real character in ‘Big Al’ Phillips, to name but a few.”

Back to ‘The City – and honoured to be captain

“But then Big Jack ‘persuaded me’ to return to St Davids and I really enjoyed being part of a team that had so many legends like Dai Bennett, Gus Cartwright and Carwyn Richards - with Fintan Godkin and Barry John as terrific coaches at one stage.
“When I was about 27 I was chosen as club captain and regarded it as a huge honour to just look on the club’s honours’ board and see my name there along with the names of John James, Gus, Jack, Carwyn, Mike Lamb, Fraser Watson and so many more.
“I retired at 35 because the niggling injuries were on the increase and my recovery time was getting longer - but it was nice that I finished in style with a try against Pontyates, which I would like to say came after a 50-metre gallop but in fact was no further out than 5 metres!”

Rocked by serious illness – but battled back after ‘tough times’

At one time Chris, who has always been a big feller, wasn’t far off 30 stone in weight but three years ago he was rocked back by the bad news that when he went to the doctor’s feeling a little off colour a series of tests eventually revealed that he had Non-Hodgkinson’s Lymphoma and he was even told by one specialist that it was incurable.
“I had a lengthy round of chemotherapy and it affected me so that I just couldn’t eat, other than the odd half-sandwich and smoothies, but I lost ten stone in the first year and eventually received the good news that I was in remission - and two years on I’m feeling really good and now have to make sure that I don’t put all that weight back on,” he says with a typical chuckle!

And finally . . .

“But I’m feeling good now, and being back involved in rugby is good for me because St Davids is a great club with some amazing characters,”  Chris told us.
He could reel off a list of those special people but never mentions his own status in the club – but others are more than happy to tell us about him.
Jack Dudley, another major influence in the club said,
“Morgs, was an excellent player with good basic skills and great handling ability for a big man. Perhaps he didn’t always train as hard as he might but that was part of his laid-back nature. We are delighted that he is back as our defence coach and is a great motivator as an added bonus. He is not only highly respected at the club but in St Davids in general – and I am proud to call him a friend.”
It is a view shared by Fraser Watson, the well-known local sports journalist and former Saints’ player:
“’Morgs’ was superb for me when I captained the club. When on song he was great going forward with the ball in hand, and the sort of character we needed off the field as well.
“I haven’t played with many front-five forwards who were as naturally skillful as I was. It was only a lack of fitness – and I can say this to him because he knows himself – that stopped him going a lot further than he did.
“A great player. And a great friend.”
We could pay Chris Morgan no higher praise than these to other stars of St Davids – and we always look forward to a chat when we bump into him around the touchlines of Pembrokeshire Rugby.